Graham Kilmer
MKE County

McKinley Beach Reopens After Four Years

Adding and shaping 11,000 cubic yards of sand to create safer, shallower swimming area.

By - May 22nd, 2024 05:39 pm

County officials hold ceremonial ribbon cutting for McKinley Beach reopening. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

McKinley Beach has finally reopened.

Milwaukee County Parks closed the beach in 2020 following a series of drownings. County officials gathered Wednesday to hold a ribbon cutting for the beach and announce that it has reopened.

Today, we are marking its return,” said County Executive David Crowley. “It’s a safe and family-friendly destination that enhances the quality of life for all who visit.”

After Parks closed the beach, the Milwaukee County Board funded a study of the water conditions, which found that record high water levels were creating rip currents between the two stone breakwaters that bookend the beach. When McKinley Beach was built in 1989, the water between the stone breakwaters was approximately two and a half feet. In 2020, the water reached depths of six feet, creating a larger column of water whose energy was channeled between the breakwaters.

Supervisors considered a handful of options for improving safety at the beach. Ultimately, the board provided funding to have truckloads of sand brought in to fill in the swimming area and return it to its original depths.

“This was expensive,” said Sup. Sheldon Wasserman, who represents the area. “But it was the best we could do.”

The county spent more than $1 million on the project between design and construction. Beginning in the summer of 2023, more than 11,000 cubic yards of sand were brought in and used to reshape and regrade the beach.

“The result is a beautiful, restored wading beach waiting for the enjoyment of our community,” said Parks Director Guy Smith.

The department will continue to monitor the water levels at the beach. At the beginning and end of each swim season, Parks will survey the conditions and consider whether a bathymetric survey is needed for more detailed data, said Sarah Toomsen, assistant director of planning.

“This proactive approach will help us swiftly address any potential issues and maintain the beach’s integrity for future generations,” Smith said.

McKinley Beach May 2024

McKinley Beach April 2024

June 2023 Construction Photos

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Categories: MKE County, Parks

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